Abstract: Some years ago, my dear mother read me a Chinese prose on meditation, when I have the inclination to find a place where I could seek self-awakening. Then I came across a Russian short story which bears some semblance to the prose. Read on.
My mother gave me this Chinese ‘stanza’ some years ago. She knew that this would strike a chord with me as I do Yoga meditation daily.
I did the translation into English, to be as near as possible to the spirit as mentioned in the stanza.
In the lexicon of Buddhism, Mount LingShan is a mystical and spiritual term that refers to the mountain where a Buddhist devotee might achieve self-awakening through meditation.
It was said that the famous Monk XuanZang briefly settled here when he returned from India after a seventeen-year overland journey to India in search of the true scriptures of Buddhism. This has inspired the novel Journey to the West as written by Wu Cheng’en during the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644 A.D.) A lot of movies have been made on the Journey to the West.
In essence, this prose expounds that one does not need to go to Mount LingShan for spiritual enlightenment. It is within the heart that one must seek, hence; it is a journey inward.
Perhaps it can also be interpreted that one does not need to be elaborate in religious rituals. To attain spiritual awakening, it is best to keep it simple when the supplication, prayer or meditation is done with an earnest heart.
Then in came to mind, of a Russian tale I read which has a familiar ring to the above prose.
I have heard…
Three old hermits lived on an island. They were simple folks. Their only prayer was: ‘We are three, Thou art Three – have mercy on us!’
It was said that great miracles manifested in their naïve prayer.
The local bishop heard about the three hermits as he was sailing past the island on a ship. The captain told the bishop of the 3 strange hermits and their simple prayers. The bishop thought their prayers were unacceptable. He wanted to teach them the proper biblical canonical invocations.
Arriving on the island in a rowboat, he told the three hermits that their heavenly petitions, supplications and salvation seeking of the soul were not dignified. He taught them the customary prayers and rites.
Then the bishop left in the rowboat.
While on board, the bishop noticed their ship was being followed. The three hermits were running on the surface of the water towards his ship as if they were running on dry land. There was a blinding white light that followed them.
When they were near the hull of the ship, the elder hermit shouted to the bishop, “Please servant of God, we have forgotten the prayers you taught us. Can you teach us again?”
The bishop was humbled by what he saw. He replied, “Your own prayer will reach the Lord. It is not for me to teach you. Pray for us sinners.”
Then the three hermits turned around and walked back on water towards their island.
The above is a Russian short story written by Leo Tolstoy in 1885.
Think about it.